It’s good to talk with kids about bullying to make sure they understand what it is and what they can do to help if they see or experience bullying taking place.
What is Bullying?
Bullying affects everyone involved, including the person doing the bullying, the person being bullied and all who see it happening.
Bullying can take several forms, including:
- Verbal: Saying, writing or posting something negative about someone
- Social: Harming someone’s reputation, or not including them in groups or activities
- Physical: Hurting someone’s body or their possessions
Stand Up Against Bullying
Knowing about bullying and talking about it is important. It’s also good to prepare your child for what they will do if they see bullying. One way to do this is to compare bystanders and upstanders.
A bystander is someone who witnesses bullying but doesn’t say anything or take action to help.
An upstander takes action to support someone who is being bullied.
Ways to be an upstander
Here are some things you can teach your child:
- Be kind: By using kind words and including everyone, you’re helping create a place where people feel accepted. For example, notice if one of your classmates is always left out of group activities or if someone is sitting alone at lunch. You can make a difference by asking them to join your group of friends.
- There’s strength in numbers: Kids tend to be bullied when they are by themselves. If you see someone being bullied, ask them to join your group or activity so that they aren’t alone. You can also offer to walk with them between classes to make sure they’re not alone.
- Make an adult aware: Sometimes, just helping the child being bullied walk over near an adult is helpful. This way, the adult can see and hear what is happening and can intervene. A lot of children like this option because it keeps them from having to be “a tattletale.”
- Keep in mind that if there are safety concerns, you do want to tell an adult right away. Offer to go with the person being bullied to tell an adult about what is happening. If they don’t want to report it, you can still go and tell what you saw.
- How to safely talk to a bully: You may say something to the bully like, “Please stop. This is bullying and that’s not okay.” Roleplay assertiveness skills (speaking clearly, firmly and directly) with your child at home so they are better prepared.
Talking About Bullying
Starting a conversation is a great way to find out what your child knows about bullying and who they feel comfortable talking to about it.
Use these conversation starters to help you get started and download all of them below. Ask things like:
- How do other kids treat you at school (or church, sports team, etc.)?
- What do you do if you see bullying?
- Who is a trusted adult you would go to if you saw someone being bullied?